To see the FULL list of SBA Finalists, click here.
1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
My name is Daniela Williams and my business is called Cucinamore, LLC. I was born and raised in the Italian city of Treviso, 25 miles north of Venice. In 2008, I moved to the United States and have made a home here with my husband Vince, now a U.S. Navy veteran, and our sons, Jason and Nicholas. I have managed a Cooking Demonstration Department in San Antonio, TX for a major independent food retailer, and I have also had the honor to work with Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg.
At the beginning of 2014 I founded Cucinamore, LLC. In these times of omnipresent food-related TV shows, filled with screaming chefs, battles against the clock, and searches for the weirdest ingredient, I believed there still was a receptive audience out there for a different approach, based on the offer for authentic contemporary Italian food and atmosphere, bringing people together in person, in a peaceful and joyful way: in the kitchen, first, and then at the table.
I was blessed with an enthusiastic clientele that understood and shared these ideals with me, welcoming this new, fun and relaxed, experience-based way of entertaining in their own home.
This is how my business was conceived and keeps developing, and what still motivates me to do what I do, every day.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
It would be a huge honor and great achievement for me to be recognized for being able to put in action what initially was just an idea rooted in passion and love, and transform it through hard work and determination into an innovative and successful small business in Northern Virginia. In a way, a micro-expression of the classic “American Dream”.
3. If you weren’t running your own business, what would you be doing?
This business represents the dream of a lifetime for me, so I cannot really picture myself doing anything else right now that would make me any happier than I already am, doing what I do.
4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?
I read mostly in Italian, especially now that I am particularly busy, because I do it in the evening, and reading in English would require too much effort to actually be enjoyable, at the end of my day. For this reason, right now on my bedside table there is “Dimmi che credi al destino” by Luca Bianchini, a fun and easy reading, contemporary Italian writer that is helping me relax when my working day is over.
I have always enjoyed reading very much, though, and my taste ranges across a lot of different genres and authors. Having to pick just one book that left a particular impression on me, the first that comes to mind is “Asylum”, by Patrick McGrath.
5. What is your favorite app (computer/phone)?
I consider myself a true dinosaur when it comes to technology (or a “Dani-saur”, as I have renamed myself), but I have to admit that I would be lost without a very basic app that I am very grateful for: our family shared calendar app (cozi.com) that allows me to convince myself that I am somehow still in control of my “tribe” and what happens in our lives, even if we are sometimes running on hectic parallel paths.
6. If you have 24 hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
Very likely look for some friends to catch up with and relax, sharing a good meal and a glass of wine with, taking a break from all the different family needs, commitments, appointments and so on.
7. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
On a strictly business level, it was a very simple and predictable decision: the day I finally admitted to myself that I needed a website, after being in denial for the longest time. It changed the way I was able to handle my business, practically overnight.
On a more personal, but still business-related area: a small bouquet of flowers that I received from a client, one day, to express her “thank you” for having brought her family and friends together with my party. I am still touched at the thought of how gratifying it was to see in those flowers how my business aced the main goal I have always had in mind. Like I always say: “it goes beyond the food”
8. What did you want to be when you grew up? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
I wanted to be…. a Chef! But both my parents and my teachers discouraged me as it wasn’t considered back there and then, “academically good enough”. So my professional life took a completely different road, and I ended up having a great career in the Travel Industry, until I decided it was time for me to follow my true dreams and, much later in life, I managed to make those dreams come true with CUCINAMORE!
9. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
I have two, and I cannot pick between them so I am going to mention them both: the late Chef Michele Organte, executive chef at “Parco Etnografico” Rubano, Italy, and Chef Benedetta Cano’, owner and chef at “Agriturismo Poggio Al Sole” in Cortona, Tuscany, Italy. Great mentors and awesome friends, who helped me believe in me and in my business.
10. What is your favorite thing about living/running a business in Loudoun County?
The opportunity to find the perfect audience for a concept that is combining an old fashioned notion that is so dear to my heart (spending quality time together in person, around food, wine and good company) with a formula that responds to the needs of a fast paced, modern American lifestyle (saving the host time by taking care of shopping and planning, bringing all necessary tools and cookware, and most of all taking all of that back with me for cleaning and sanitizing, leaving minimal after-party clean-up to the host, who can then focus on what matters the most: the fun!)
Thank you to Daniela Williams, of Cucinamore, LLC, and congratulations on your nomination!
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